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The Visitation

Location

RHINE VALLEY

Title

The Visitation

Date

2nd half of 15th c.

Materials

Polychromed wood

Dimensions

30 x 30.3 x 7.2 cm

Credits

Purchase, gift of Murray G. Ballantyne and Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1972.10

Collection

Western Art

Unlike the monumental figures prized by sculptors and patrons in southern and eastern Germany for their altarpieces, those in the Middle and Lower Rhine Valley, as well as in the Low Countries, preferred ensembles of small figures forming many different, sometimes complex scenes of a rich, almost teeming, iconography. This charming little scene of the Visitation, the heavy draperies testifying to the richness of the fabrics clothing the figures, a reflection of the influence of the fashions (and art) of the Burgundian court, comes from an altarpiece of that type. The Visitation shows Mary, Christ’s mother, with her cousin, Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist. The placement of the Virgin’s hand upon her belly was often associated with depictions of pregnant women in the late Middle Ages.

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